A development masterplan which could change the housing landscape of Leeds is “unsustainable and unrealistic”, senior opposition politicians said today.
The YEP reported yesterday (Jan 6) that 66,000 new homes could be built across Leeds by 2028, with the numbers split across 11 areas and 763 individual sites, and with large swathes of development earmarked for the inner city and city centre to boost regeneration and growth.
The plans form part of Leeds City Council’s Core Strategy vision, and the Site Allocation Plan attached to it, which lays out in detail where the authority wants to locate future housing, as well as employment, retail and green space growth in the city. The number of homes to be built could rise further to 70,000 when smaller, as-yet unallocated ‘windfall’ sites are taken into account.
Housing bosses have hailed the wide-ranging planning blueprint as “vital” for the city’s future ambitions.
And, with 62 per cent of the total housing earmarked for brownfield sites – previously developed land – they have also pledged to “protect the green belt”.
However political opponents of the ruling Labour administration today questioned that pledge – and claimed many communities feared being “spoiled by unwanted and unnecessary developments”.
Coun Andrew Carter, leader of the main opposition Conservative group, said: “The truth is that communities all over Leeds, whether it is Garforth, Kippax, Methley, Crossgates and Whinmoor. Harewood, Guiseley and Rawdon, Alwoodley, Adel and Wharfedale and my own ward of Calverley and Farsley, to name just a few, will see the amount of greenbelt in their wards significantly reduced as part of these plans.
“As we have repeatedly said, these numbers are unsustainable and unrealistic. Greenbelt offers valuable protection from urban sprawl and gives many of our towns and villages their unique identities. Building in the greenbelt should only be considered at all after brownfield sites have been used, but the core of the problem is the Labour administration’s insistence on an unrealistic number of 70,000 houses.”
Coun Colin Campbell, the Liberal Democrat group’s spokesperson on Planning and City Development, said it was important to have a plan to guide development and protect the city from “predatory developers”.
However he warned that allocating more housing sites than were needed could be counter-productive, and could end with many pieces of land “simply ending up in developers’ land banks”.
“The council needs to ensure that new housing meets the needs of residents rather than developers,” he said. “Secondly it needs to ensure appropriate new infrastructure, such as roads and schools, is in place before people move into their new homes. Finally we need to protect green spaces and ensure development is concentrated on previously used brownfield sites.”
The council has pledged that only 20 per cent of new homes would be built on green belt. However it is also looking to reclassify some rural land as green belt to redress the balance.
Coun Neil Walshaw, chair of the council’s development plans panel, said there would be “an overall net gain in the amount of green belt in the Leeds district”.
The authority has pledged to provide a “significant proportion” of affordable housing, as part of its masterplan.